To view a list of the resources available to be reviewed, click here.
October 4, 2017
Luther: His Life, His Path, His Legacy - DVD
Review by Pr. Craig Benson
This 90-minute DVD traces the life and legacy of Martin Luther from his birth in Eisleben to his ministry in Wittenberg and other places in Germany. This is a chronological presentation of Luther’s life based upon the vast writings of Luther and others during his lifetime. It is great resource for those who have never studied Luther’s life and as a review for those who know much about him. I would classify this as a historical, traditional study of Luther. It succeeds in presenting the facts on Luther, as much as we can know them. The chronological approach makes it fairly easy to see how Luther grew in his personal faith and understanding of God and His work of salvation through Jesus Christ.
The producers do a very good job in presenting Luther as a real human being, with strengths and weaknesses. We are reminded that Luther, like any other young person of his day, was deeply influenced by the values and beliefs of his parents, teachers, and others during these impressionable years. These close human relationships reveal an important aspect of Luther’s life—he experienced many of the common joys, struggles, and emotions that others experienced. This balanced portrayal of the man Luther is one of the strengths of this DVD, and it appeals to us today as we seek to understand and appreciate the real Martin Luther.
The producers also successfully mixed the narrative story of Luther’s life and ministry with video clips from the 2003 Luther movie. I especially enjoyed the interview clips with the actors as they shared their perspective on Luther and others they portrayed.
I thoroughly enjoyed viewing this historical documentary on the life of Luther, and I recommend it to others who want to learn more about the fascinating life of Luther and the Reformation period. I also enjoyed hearing the three Luther scholars from present-day Germany as they shared their analysis of Luther. They discussed the physical, emotional, and spiritual struggles of Luther, and especially his struggle to understand God as righteous and just as well as loving and forgiving.
I was impressed with how the producers of this DVD combined narrative, visual, musical, and theatrical elements together in telling the story of Luther and his impact upon Germany and the Christian Church. My church will be viewing this movie for our Reformation Family Night activity. I recommend it as an educational tool with older children, mainly confirmation classes and high school students. I am also considering using this movie as part of new member classes and possible outreach to the local community.
Pr. Craig Benson
Amazing Grace Free Lutheran & St. Peter Lutheran
October 11, 2017
A Boy Meets Luther
Review by Linda Mohagen
A Boy Meets Luther takes you back in time much like an imaginary time machine. The Pine Hill family is your guide as they graphically take you through their daily lives and circumstances, all the time correlating with Luther’s Small Catechism. The author very uniquely depicts the importance of a teaching father who wisely instructs his children about the Word of God along with teachings of Luther, whom his son is so curious about. Grandparents too, who live in the same house, play an important role in how God works in all of their lives.
I love the simple yet complex questions that Sven often asks his Dad and how those questions along with their daily living experiences are addressed and answered with the teachings and meanings of the small catechism book!
I was really impressed how this book follows Luther’s Small Catechism so much that I’m using it in my Sunday school class as well as reading it in our confirmation class. We also purchased one for each of our families. I highly recommend this refreshing and delightful book for all to read, and may it intrigue you as it did Sven about how a small book that was written for children was hard to understand.
Slim Buttes Lutheran Church
October 18, 2017
Mr. Pipes and Psalms and Hymns of the Reformation
Review by Juli McCarlson
Mr. Pipes and Psalms and Hymns of the Reformation is the second book in a three-part series by Douglas Bond, the first book being Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers, and the third, Mr. Pipes Comes to America. If you have a passion for sacred music and its history, placed right in the middle of the adventures of Annie and Drew Willis and their dear friend Mr. Pipes (David McCallum—organist, historian, and traveler), this series is for you!
This second book takes the Willis children back to England to meet up with Mr. Pipes and then on the road, traveling the historical paths of the hymn writers of the Reformation era of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in Germany and Switzerland. The intriguing story of these adventures with Mr. Pipes is surrounded with sound information about ten men of God, poets and musicians, and how God worked in their lives as they struggled with life and the desire to worship the Lord God Almighty in light of the changes the Reformation was bringing. God was working in different souls, in different countries, in different years to bring about His change in personal lives, and their worship, through hymn singing.
I so enjoyed and loved learning about these men—reading how God worked in their lives to bring about personal commitment to Him and used them to further His work through writing poems and music, which brought about changes in the current worship practices to include hymn singing. I like that the lyrics of the hymns are written out in the book, to be read in poetic form, as well as having the music form of the hymn included. I was touched to my soul to read the Scriptures included with the chapters. I enjoyed the story line of the main characters and was taken in with the “mystery man” and then as surprised as they to find out who it was! I was drawn in with Mr. Bond’s ability to describe the settings of the stories. I felt like I was right there. I was thrilled with the emphasis on “music” and am awed by God’s working through the ages . . . we still sing many of these hymns! I like the connections that bring history to the present. I am challenged with questions . . . questions that I would like to find answers to. Mr. Bond has written in a way that will inspire both young and old readers as they delve into hymnology and its history through an adventurous story!
Tabor Lutheran Church
October 25, 2017
When Lightning Struck! The Story of Martin Luther
Review by Jennifer Thorson
If you’re looking for a book that shares the story of Martin Luther’s life and conversion in a way that makes it exciting for teens and younger readers, you’ll love When Lightning Struck! The Story of Martin Luther by Danika Cooley.
The story begins the moment when a young Luther is thrown to the ground by a bolt of lightning. His childhood plays out before him in his mind, and we are transported through time as we read about Martin’s years as a little boy through his time living in a monastery in Magdeburg in his teenage years, and his experience in the university in Erfurt, and his time in seminary.
The same excitement continues in the rest of the book, bringing us through the dramatic events of Luther coming to understand the Gospel and striving to share Christ even though it meant opposition and imprisonment.
What I love about this book is that it is written in prose form, offering plenty of interesting dialogue between Luther and his family members, friends, and fellow priests. It gives insight into Luther’s conflicting thoughts as he yearns to be right with God but finds that what he believes at the time falls woefully short of bringing him peace. It has much detail and covers a lot of ground, bringing us the stories of Luther’s conversion, marriage and family, and his later years of life as his health declined.
All the way to the dramatic conclusion, we can see glimpses into Luther’s doubts and struggles as well as his strong trust in God’s mercy and love.
The author, Danika Cooley, is a friend of mine, so I enjoyed hearing from her through a Q&A about her experience writing this young adult version of the story of Martin Luther.
Q: Why did you decide to write the story of Martin Luther from a young adult perspective?
A: The story of Martin Luther is both really exciting, and really important. There is a lot of confusion today about Christian history amongst Christians, and I want to help teens understand both the history of our faith and the people God has used to teach and lead the Church.
I hope that When Lightning Struck! The Story of Martin Luther educates teens, but I also hope it's an exciting read for them. I hope Luther's story makes them curious about the history of our family tree, and about theology. More than anything, I hope teens feel empowered to stand for Scripture.
Q: What was the most interesting thing you discovered about the Reformation while researching history for this book?
A: The Reformation period is fascinating! I learned so many things. I think what was most interesting to me was the many voices calling for reform long before the Reformation. The reason Luther's Ninety-Five Theses spread so quickly and ignited such change was that scholars, theologians, priests, and the common people across Europe were already longing for a return to biblical teaching.
Q: What is most meaningful to you spiritually about the Reformation?
A: I love the five Solas: Sola Scriptura (By Scripture Alone), Sola Fide (By Faith Alone), Sola Gratia (By Grace Alone), Solus Christus (Through Christ Alone), and Soli Deo Gloria (To the Glory of God Alone).
These slogans point to biblical truths that are vital to the way we understand our faith. Though they weren't all used together until the twentieth century, they were each used in letters by various Reformers to call attention to pillars of Protestant doctrine.
Q: What is one interesting historical fact about Martin Luther that you didn't know before you wrote your book?
A: You know, his life was fascinating. I didn't know he had the opportunity to be protected by a number of knights who supported him. Luther chose to stay in Wittenberg as an outlaw and preach the Gospel.
I think in studying Luther's life and writings, what was most interesting to me was his character as a whole. By the end of my studies, I really felt like I knew Luther. That was a neat experience.
Danika captures Luther’s strong-willed and determined personality well and brings to life the truths of the world-changing, historical events of the Reformation (and the days leading up to it) in a truly memorable way! Enjoy reading this book with your older children and learning something new about the life and ministry of Martin Luther.
Living Word Lutheran Church
Sioux Falls, SD